Tamil cinema, centered in Chennai; consider as Kollywood film industry. It has the greatest impact on the masses. “It has become impact on all aspects of Tamil society and in political life”. Cinema has become part and parcel of the life of Tamils. It has taken a central place in the life and culture of the Tamil society. In fact, it did not vanish with the arrival of the TV. The number of film goers in India is highest in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil cinema emerges from Tamil language and culture, incorporating both cultural and entertainment strands. Tamil culture belongs to the Dravidian language family (Tamil, Malayalam, Kanada, and Telugu) which is spoken by 100 million people in the world. Tamil Nadu is endowed with rich cultural heritage, especially the Tamil language and literature, temple architecture, art, and sculpture, and the three great Tamil kingdoms of the Cholas, Cheras, and Pandiyas and later the Pallavas in the northern part of the Tamil country. “The Tamil language has a long and unbroken literary tradition of some 2,000 years”. The number of native Tamil speakers exceeds 26 million as the language is also spoken in other parts of the world. In the island nation of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) alone there are two million native Tamil speakers. In Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam there are one million people who speak the language. Besides there are also Tamil speaking people in some of the Indian Ocean islands.
“Tamil language is traditionally understood as consisting of three streams, known as Muthamizh namely Iyal which means literature, Isai which means music, and Natakam which means drama”. The Tamil language was very well known for its devotional nature that was prevalent during the time of the Bhakti (spiritual devotion) culture or movement.
Origins of Tamil Cinema induced a passion for social reform, identity formation, and political empowerment, which continues in the media for example. Based on the popular belief that Tamil language is in fact the mother of all the Tamils, people glorious Tamil language as divine and sought to re-divinize or Dravidianize the culture.
B. Drama Within this larger phenomenon, cinema takes part of its form from the theater. Though the Tamil language with the aforementioned triple linguistic character of Iyal (prose), Isai (music), and Natakam (drama or theater) flourished in ancient times, it had its setbacks in the past two millennia. When Buddhism and Jainism flourished in the country, music and drama were considered worldly pleasures to be refrained from. However, to please the common folk during festival seasons, a rustic form of art known as Koothu was performed, and the people who took it as a profession later assumed a caste identity known as Koothar. The tradition of Koothu is still prevalent in Tamil Nadu during village festivals.
C. Music in Tamil drama Tamil cinema could attain its progress only from the field of drama wherein there was little harmony between the action and drama, and songs were given more importance than story. People used to go to Tamil dramas more to hear than to see. The instrumentalists, especially the one at the harmonium, were more important than the hero. The heroes and heroines were themselves more known and celebrated for their voice and musical talent than acting, and musical talent was considered an integral and indispensable component of acting.The Tamils usually hear the songs of a particular cinema and then go to the theaters to see the still pictures. In fact the Tamil usage Thirai padam for cinema—literally a still picture on screen— differs from the Western idea of “movies,” which indicates movement or action. It is something taken for granted in the Tamil or, for that matter, in any Indian cinema that the director conveys the story, plot, message, and sentiments through visuals along with music and songs. It is recorded that the producers looked for heroes and actresses who were popular singers as drama artists without bothering about their ability to act and represent characters on screen.
Loud voice culture in Tamil cinema
The stage actors brought the “loud voice culture” into the Tamil cinema by shouting and yelling as they would do it in theater. People came to the cinema to see beautiful women with jewels, men with impressive voices, and picturesque scenery, love songs and sentiments, and a comedian who could evoke laughter. These may be cited as some of the reasons for some aesthetic failure of Tamil cinema even today (Iyer, 1997, pp. 11-12). Nevertheless this initial aesthetic language suited the pre-independence period, bringing along with it the drama, stories, plot; therefore, it is called Tamil cinema of the loud voice culture.